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Well that's it, volunteering in Fiji is over. I'm now sat in departures waiting for the first of my 4 flights. Feeling pretty much wrung out with so many emotions on so many levels about my whole Fiji experience. From my actual work in placements to time with my host famil. From time spent making new friends and spending time and sharing experiences with them. Never ever did I imagine the strength of how I am feeling. So many people said to me before I went it will be interesting to see how you will change. I had reservations about this comment before I left and when I first arrived here but gradually I've realised yes I am different. I'm now Laura that seemed to have got lost through life. Really hard to explain it and not sure how this Laura will pan out once I'm back to day to day life but I have the realisation that I can be happy, carefree, funny and good to be with. Not saying I wasn't this back home but perhaps not as much as I could be or wanted to be. Walking through Nadi town today I felt so confident and happy and reflected back to my first visit to Nadi town where I just walked very quickly with my head down trying desperately hard not to have to say Bula to anyone.
Volunteering is such an amazing thing to do. I urge anyone no matter how young or old to do it. The friends I have made from all around the world have made the whole experience even more special. Never would I have thought that in a short amount of time some people would get to know me inside out. We've laughed together, cried together, sat in quiet contemplation together but best of all we have been there for one another.
Thank you to everyone of my new friends both volunteers and Projects Abroad staff.
Stay in touch and enjoy life to the ...
Well yes unbelievably I'm on my last full week. Feeling really emotional about it all to be honest. Had a great week at placement last week. Cassie and I were joined by Nikki from Australia and we all hit it off straight away. The week as usual was mad busy at both school and kindy. School was tough once again. Working in a tiny room with no fan and 9 hot children and 3 even hotter adults would test anyone's patience!! The children have done remarkably well in the small amount of time we have worked with them. We have been doing 'old style' sight word work which has involved flash cards (made hastily in our lunch hour), pairs games and good old put the cut up words into a sentence then stick down! The children are so proud of their special books that their work has gone into. They have managed to learn the words I, can, see, the, a, and, like, it, is, you, my. 'My' was the trickiest word to try and explain!! Trying to explain it's not 'I like my sun' with limited English was really difficult! Don't think they mastered the concept but at least they could read their sentence!! A 1:3 ratio might sound easy but my goodness it's not! Like lots of us over here have said it really is seeing is believing!!
Socially another good week however seeing people who I've developed good friendships with leaving to go back home has been really hard. Nicole and Cassie have both left and today my good friend and house mate Christina has left to join the shark conservation project at Pacific Harbour. I'm determined that this won't be the last I see of them though! I've had great fun over the weekend at the Sabeto Hot Springs where we all got dirty in the mud! My skin came out amazingly! I've been to Beachcomber Island and parasailed. Drank 3 cups of the local Kava and chatted ...
I was on the Fiji Shark conservation project for 2 months. In that time I completed 5 seperate PADI courses including open water and advancced open water, went snorkeling, planted mangroves, went into local villages and schools and met so many awsome people who I hope to remain in contact with for many more years.
I also didn't write a single blog post.
There are several excuses I could give for this but the fact of the matter remains. So this is my plan B. I was going to tell you about all of my own experiences but you will find that when you go you will miss some things that I saw and see plenty of amazing things that I didn't. So, to my plan, I will be writing some tips on how to get the most out of your trip, wherever you are going.
1. Don't be afraid to talk to people. Everyone was new to the project at one time so they know how daunting it is. You will find lots of different types of poeple and are bound to find someone you like and don't forget to meet the local peole too! The sooner you make friends, the faster you can really get involved and start enjoying your time away.
2. Go out on the weekends. The weekends are yours, you should use them to explore the area with your new friends and have some fun. Make some memories, as cheesey as that sounds.
3. Take lots of pictures. Make them into a photo album or just leave them on your computer but its nice to have pictures to help you remember all your adventures, it might be the only time you can ever visit the country.
4. Don't forget your money. Make sure you have enough money for your trip. Think about the costs of any activities you want to do and also the cost of things in the country relative to your home country and the exchange rates. Most people i knew took credit or debit cards as they are the easiest way ...
Well yes I am writing this blog on the beach at natandola with the sun on my back. Great week once again just going far too fast! Super work at Kindy on birds, Natalyia and I managed to work with the children to create art that did vaguely resemble birds! Flowers next week that might be easier!! Natalyia left on Friday we had party food at snack/lunch time that was donated by the parents. It really was a lovely celebration. I shed a tear!! Goodness knows what I will be like when it comes to my time to leave. Worked lots with an autistic girl at kindy this week. Challenging but so rewarding. I did lots of intensive interaction with her and it was lovely to see her, laughing, smiling and initiating more interaction. I've been wearing my contact lenses loads more and have my reading glasses on a string round my neck! The reason for this - I don't lose them! My little friend keeps coming to me and puts my glasses back on, so sweet! School was good this week too. Cassie and I take our children out to the kindy room to work. So pleased as some of my children have learnt 7 words in one week! Still doing Jolly Phonics with them. Ants on my arm is coming out as arse on my arm when the children sing, makes me laugh so much! These letter sounds are proving quite tricky!!!
On a social note had ice cream from Burger King just once which is great! Conquered one of my fears yesterday I went snorkelling. Had a fab trip out with 5 friends which involved a catamaran and waves and snorkelling. Saw loads of fish and managed not to drown! Today has been frustrating in terms of travel. 7 of us visited Sigatoka sand dunes ( my goodness they were hard to walk up in the heat) however the bus didn't stop and we ended up in Sigatoka first! Then had to get a minvan back towards ...
Oh my have I only been at my placements two weeks?? It seems so much longer! Kindy is going great I really feel part of the team. It's so lovely to hear when I arrive at 8am each morning the children shout 'Good morning teacher'. They really are cute. Natalyia (16 year old volunteer from Australia) and I did some great craft activities based on wild animals. We really were creative and 3G and Pinterest really came in handy! Fijian birds next week, that's proving to be a little more tricky!! My afternoons have been tricky! For one reason or another I ended up teaching the class on my own Monday, Wednesday and Thursdmay afternoon with no warning! Decided to do some Jolly Phonics with them as letter names rather than sounds seems to be the way they have been taught. Thank heavens for my iPhone, 3G and Debbie back at home who managed to get the sound track and corresponding pictures to me. It wasn't straight forward for the children to be able to listen to the sounds but once again my phone came into its own!! Next week hopefully Cassie (volunteer from Australia) and I are going to be doing phonics with the 'slow readers' so they were called at school. Right in my comfort zone. I really felt that I helped one family at kindy this week. Their son is autistic and so I was able to share lots of information with the little boys mum and once I'm home I will be emailing things out to her. It's so sad to see and hear about the lack of provision for parents and children over here with special needs. As lots of you know working with parents and children with special needs are real passions of mine. The little boys Mum is doing amazingly with him but like lots of parents I have worked with there are some tough decisions to be made shortly. My heart went out to her when ...